A Glorious Piece of Mechanism - Debrie Parvo

The Debrie company elegantly evolved the design of their 1908 wooden-encased, Le Parvo camera into the all-metal models of the early 1920's. This French made marvel below, the Parvo Model L, represented the apex of camera engineering of the period.


1927 debrie parvo model 'L' no. 4405  

The super compact Model L held up to 120 meters (390 ft) of film inside the body, offered superb image stability, and featured innovations such as a built-in speed tachometer and an automatic dissolve mechanism. 

This model was made famous by Dziga Vertov in his 1929 experimental documentary, Man with a Movie Camera, which pushed the envelope of cinematic techniques of its time, and featured the Parvo as a central character in the film.  


I unpacked three cases containing my cinematograph gear which has been shipped under bond from France. The instrument which is by Debrie is a glorious piece of mechanism and the ideal of perfection for my work.
— Cinematographer Frank Hurley, 1929

Frank Hurley's companion for 30 years

Australian expedition photographer and cinematographer Frank Hurley bought his new Parvo Model L before he left for his third Antarctic trip in 1929. Hurley used the Parvo for the next three decades. In Antarctica from 1929 to 1931, he recorded life aboard Discovery, the intriguing wildlife and majestic pack ice, and the scientific work of the expeditions.